A mere four months ago, the top genomic Holstein bull marketed by the artificial insemination (A.I.) industry to dairy breeders stood at $1,095 Cheese Merit.

This August, that number leapt by $123 to reach $1,218 Cheese Merit (CM$). Overall, the top 50 genomic Holstein young bulls climbed to a $1,218-to-$1,055 range in Cheese Merit compared to the $1,095-to-$1,031 spread in Cheese Merit in April 2019. One of the drivers has been stepped up selection for higher components driven by greater consumer demand for butterfat and higher pay prices for butterfat in dairy farmers’ milk checks.

This developing trend was just one of the many changes found in the August 2019 Hoard’s Dairyman Bull List. Data to create the list was tabulated by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding.

Additional progress in Holsteins

  • When looking at other top Holstein lists, a similar improvement in genetics also unfolded from April to August 2019:
  • Net Merit: the top genomic bull climbed from $1,065 to $1,170 NM$.
  • Net Merit: The range in the top 50 NM$ list expanded to $1,170 to $1,031 NM$. (April was $1,065 to $995.)
  • TPI (Total Performance Index): the top TPI bull climbed from 2953 to 2977 TPI.
  • TPI: The range in the top 50 list climbed on the top end but slipped on the bottom end with 2977 to 2825 TPI points. (April was 2953 to 2839.)

Most breeds show genetic growth, too

Young bulls continue to drive A.I. semen sales as dairy farmers across the country and around the world vote with their pocketbooks. In August 2019, 75 percent of all bulls declared active by A.I. studs were genomic young bulls without milking daughters. Actual semen sales come close to mirroring those numbers.

As for breed specific changes among genomic young bulls from April to August 2019:

Brown Swiss: Top Cheese Merit Bull stands at $616 and had been $562 in April. The new top five range is $616 to $520. (April was $562 to $485.)

Ayrshire: Top Cheese Merit Bull was $707 and had been $650 in April. The new top five range is $707 to $602. (April was $650 to $567.)

Guernsey: Top Cheese Merit Bull climbed to $459 and had been $382 in April. The new top five range is $459 to $278. (April was $382 to $280.)

Red and White Holstein: Top Cheese Merit Bull stands at $899 and had been $862 in April. The new top five range is $899 to $844. (April was $862 to $805.)

Jersey: Top Cheese Merit Bull was $700, down slightly from April’s $718. The new top 25 range also retreated slightly to $700 to $615. (April was $718 to $628.)

Fertility evaluations corrected this August

A revision of fertility evaluations is part of the August 2019 Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) Official Evaluations. The update is necessary following the discovery of a calculation anomaly that has been a primary reason of seasonal fluctuations in fertility trait trends.

Seasonal grouping was previously derived from heifers’ breeding dates instead of cows’ breeding dates. That has caused a substantial portion of young bulls to climb or fall in key reproduction metrics depending on the season of the run (April, August, or December).

CDCB reran the past four evaluations using revised seasonal groups that included cows’ breeding dates and results matched the theory. Almost all seasonal variation disappeared when the model changes were applied. CDCB reported its confidence in the new metrics to prevent the fluctuation seen in previous years.

The establishment of the new “stability package” will affect most fertility traits for recent bulls. The bullet points highlight alterations for daughter pregnancy rate (DPR), cow conception rate (CCR), and heifer conception rate (HCR), and that can be noticed in the August run in comparison to the April 2019 evaluations.

  • Daughter pregnancy rate (DPR): -0.68 DPR for daughter-proven Holstein bulls
  • Daughter pregnancy rate (DPR): -0.99 DPR for genomic Holstein bulls
  • Daughter pregnancy rate (DPR): -0.50 DPR for daughter-proven Jersey bulls
  • Daughter pregnancy rate (DPR): -0.61 DPR for genomic Jersey bulls
  • Cow Conception rate (CCR): -1.71 DPR for daughter-proven Holstein bulls
  • Cow conception rate (CCR): -2.36 DPR for genomic Holstein bulls
  • Cow conception rate (CCR): -1.63 DPR for daughter-proven Jersey bulls
  • Cow conception rate (CCR): -1.72 DPR for genomic Jersey bulls
  • Heifer conception rate (HCR): -0.13 DPR for daughter-proven Holstein bulls
  • Heifer conception rate (HCR): -0.47 DPR for genomic Holstein bulls
  • Heifer conception rate (HCR): -0.22 DPR for daughter-proven Jersey bulls
  • Heifer conception rate (HCR): -0.33 DPR for genomic Jersey bulls

The evolving bull list

The August 2019 Hoard’s Dairyman Bull List reflects sire selection’s ongoing evolution. With the wheels of genetic progress spinning faster than ever, the entire bull list matches that pace, going to the printing press less than 24 hours after information arrives in our office. Likewise, electronic distribution occurs before the presses are even done rolling.

This August, 4,425 bulls were declared active by A.I. organizations . . . but only 1,208 of those bulls had milking daughters. When everything is considered, bulls with genomic-only predictions climbed to a 75 percent market share. That’s a new watermark and one that surely will be eclipsed again.

Holsteins, Jerseys, and Red and White Holsteins account for over 98 percent of all U.S. semen sales, according to NAAB data. That’s why those breeds garner the greatest space in the bull list.

Rankings not only include Net Merit and Cheese Merit, but Holsteins are ranked by Total Performance Index (TPI) and Sire Calving Ease as well. Jerseys also have been listed by Jersey Performance Index (JPI). Anchored by our roots when we published the industry’s first A.I. ranking in 1968 based on a positive Predicted Difference for Milk, all bulls featured in the top 25 lists for udder and feet and legs must be in the top 40th percentile for Net Merit.

In a world where information is available in an instant, this A.I. sire comparison remains one of the few objective ways to view all your sire options side-by-side from all competing A.I. centers.


August 2019 Hoard's Dairyman Bull List

Top 50 Genomic Holstein Net Merit $, Cheese Merit $, and TPI

Top 50 Daughter Proven Holstein Net Merit $, Cheese Merit $, and TPI

Top 25 Holstein Genomic and Daughter Proven Udders, Feet and Legs, and DPR

Top 25 Holstein SCE and Jersey CM$ and JPI

Top Colored Breeds